The Chinese toys and games market is reportedly worth over $31 billion and so it comes as no surprise that a number of local firms have sought to capitalise on the reputation of some of their more established Western counterparts.
There exists something of a stereotype in these situations (and some would say deservedly so) whereby the Western rights holder is doomed to fail in any actions against Chinese companies and so it is encouraging to see that LEGO has secured another victory in its latest case against Chinese manufacturer LEPIN.
LEPIN consists of a conglomerate of different companies manufacturing under the one brand, and is one of the most high profile manufacturers of imitation LEGO sets. It has been operating for a number of years, causing the Danish manufacturer a massive headache in the local market: it has sold inferior goods often bearing identical branding and at a price far lower than their legitimate counterparts.
Whilst the situation may have been the reverse in the past, as domestic IP law develops to keep pace with China’s rapid development on the global stage, further avenues of redress for Western brand holders are opening up and the local legal system is taking such complaints much more seriously.
Lego’s latest victory comes off the back of a similar case against BELA, another Chinese manufacturer who was found guilty of copyright infringement of its “LEGO Friends range” last year. Both cases go to show that consistent policing of your intellectual property rights wherever you are in the world is a must.
We are able to provide dedicated brand protection programmes and advise you on the best methods of protection in a particular jurisdiction, wherever you are trading.
We advise clients trading all over the world including in China and have longstanding relationships with dedicated lawyers on the ground who can assist in the event that your intellectual property is being infringed. Prevention is always better than cure however, and so securing those rights in the first place is a must whenever you are thinking about trading in a new territory.
The easiest way to begin this is with a properly maintained trade mark portfolio, maintenance of copyright certificates where applicable (e.g. US/China), having robust intellectual property provisions in your manufacturing and distribution contracts and registering your rights with key customs stakeholders. Contact us for any further advice you need in this regard and one of our lawyers will be more than happy to assist.
Written by Tom Synott